Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Fish Report 10/26/16

Fish Report 10/26/16
Fall Sea Bass Begins 
Regulation Season Opens With A Dandy 
A Letter..

Fishing For Sea Bass When Weather Allows - Six Days A Week - Depart 7 Return 3 at $110.00 - Saturdays, 6:30 to 3:30 at $125.00...
Opening The Reservation Book Up On Friday Morning, Oct 28, at 8 AM, For The Period November 7th to November 17th. 

Reservations Required at 410 520 2076 - LEAVE YOUR BEST POSSIBLE CONTACT NUMBER - Weather Cancelations Are Common - I Make Every Attempt To Let Clients Sleep In If The Weather's Not Going Our Way..  

Be a half hour early! We always leave early! ..except when someone shows up right on time. 
Clients arriving late will see the west end of an east bound boat. With a limited number of reserved spots, I do not refund because you over-slept or had a flat..

Dramamine Is Cheap Insurance! (Meclizine's Better! Clients like "Bonine" brand best..) Crystalized Ginger Works Great Too. It's Simple To Prevent Motion Sickness, Difficult To Cure. If You Suffer Mal-de-Mer In A Car You Should Experiment On Shorter Half-Day Trips First! (Wockenfuss Candies sells crystalized ginger locally - We usually have some aboard - Better is Nuts.Com.. Chewable Meclizine is a good pharmaceutical, there's also a "less drowsy" meclizine pill that a lot of clients like, especially Bonine; Scopolamine Patches are the gold standard. Stay away from 'ginger pills.'
Honestly - If you get to go on the ocean once month, once a year, or even less; why risk chumming all day? Similarly, if you howl at the moon all night, chances are good you'll howl into a bucket all day.  

Bring A Cooler With Ice For Your Fish – A 48 Quart Is Fine For A Few People. 
No Galley! BYO Sandwiches & Soft Drinks. A few beers in cans is fine. (bottles break at bad times)

If You Won't Measure & Count Your Fish, The State Will Provide A Man With A Gun To Do It For You. We Measure & Count — ALWAYS — No Exceptions! 

14,299 Reef Blocks deployed at numerous sites: Doug Ake's Reef 2,503 - St. Ann's 1,531 - Al Giles/OC RUST Reef 1,065 - Eagle Scout Reef 880 - Sue's Block Drop 184 - Nichols' Concrete 678 - Capt. Bob's Block Drop 108 - Benelli Reef 269
Blocks Provided By Potomac Valley Brick - Thank You!
Support the Ocean City Reef Foundation! < (lots of reef pics here..) We're Nowhere Near Reef Building's True Potential. Thank You!

Greetings All, 
Tried one last flounder trip during the sea bass closure after the big-weather heavy swells. Not so good - 1 keeper. It was so bad I actually cancelled the last day. No way to fix it.
Hauled the boat & went to work. 
Changed out the anchor winch, painted the hull, changed props, zincs - pretty light work list. 
Got ready for sea bass to reopen in some of the prettiest weather you could want ..then a gale. 
Now one month since our last real trip, we had pretty decent sea bassing on 10/26/16. One fellow limited. Most folks were in double digits. 
Made for a delicious dinner too..

Will go some more every chance we get - weather permitting. 
Wind's evil this time of year. If you book, make sure your phone's on..

National Aquarium folks have decided they need the Baltimore Canyon & a couple others for their computers. Want to make an "Urban Sanctuary" 
A what? 
Ain't nothing urban about it. Place is pretty as you want in good weather. Kill you quick in bad. It's been absolutely pummeled by commercial & recreational fishing for close to 3/4s of a century. 
I wonder what whalers did there back in their day..
Any reef growths left standing in these canyons are what couldn't be destroyed. The rest were destroyed. 
Yes, I'm sure. 

Just like the inshore reefs I've been trying so hard to get found by science for almost 20 years; the era of heavy industrial fishing was unkind in the extreme to any seafloor habitat heavy towed gears could reach. 
Consider my old friend Capt. Jim Whaley's observations from Christmas Eve 1975: "There was only one other American boat. We were the smallest boats in a fleet of about 40 trawlers. We played American Christmas music for them, they played theirs for us.." 
Unless we go ask these men - the men who fished in that era - we'll never have any idea what a true "restoration target" might be for seafloor habitat..

Only corals being studied & protected along the East Coast start at 100 fathoms. Our nearshore growths in 10/20/30 fathoms - Not Interested. 
Fantastic reef remnants in 50 fathoms (and these very close to the 100) - Nope. 

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council just passed an amendment protecting corals in some of the canyons. 
Now the National Aquarium has nominated several of these places as "Urban Sanctuaries"..

When they banned striped bass fishing in Maryland back in 1985 it was just going to be for a while. When stripers reopened, the fed made a far-larger & far more 'Urban' Sanctuary for stripers covering all of the EEZ (US waters from 3 to 200 miles offshore.) 
Never did get that fishery back. 
I could put clients on stripers through much of the winter. Catch stripers 6 - 8 - 12 miles out. 
Ain't allowed. 

Aquarium folks say, "We don't want to ban fishing. We just want to protect these fragile environments from oil & gas." 
OK Fine - Call 'em "Energy Protection Zones" or some clever acronym. 

Won't much matter. 
Once "Sanctuary" these canyons will just be a pen stroke from closed to fishing. 

Feel more like an Indian in Jackson's time than a US fisher in the age of restored fisheries..
I fired of a letter to my DC reps after a meeting with the Aquarium folks. Copied below. 


Capt. Monty Hawkins 
Partyboat Morning Star
Ocean City, MD

Sent 10/17/16
I think it was 15 or 20 years ago (and I apologize for not looking the exact work up!) some scientists threw in the towel on fisheries restorations -- "We'll never win." Thus was born the concept of small (from an ocean perspective) Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) & sanctuaries.
Good thing the We'll Never Win crowd wasn't around for WWII. I far prefer the Churchillian approach. (His address to Harrow School - always worth a listen: especially at 2:00 minutes) 

I sat down with my State Senator, Jim Mathias, in his home the other day. With us were Jim Motsko of the White Marlin Open, and 3 folks from the National Aquarium. 
They want to make the Baltimore Canyon (nearly 60 miles east OC, MD) a sanctuary.
Two gals from Aquarium staff & a hired gun pitched the idea as 'good for the economy' because of tourism. 
I truly enjoy my birdwatching trips & could kick myself for not having a camera ready when we had an albatross, last sighted in about 1976, right next to my boat last spring. But, in the entirety of the DelMarVa region, there are maybe 6 to 8 pelagic bird trips a year. I doubt it will go up because of a sanctuary. While fabulously enjoyable, I doubt 60 mile birding/mammal watching canyon trips will ever become an economic driver.
These well-meaning people said the sanctuary was for oil & wind energy - to protect the Baltimore. 
If that's true - then that's what they should be selling, and not the broader "Sanctuary." 

When I fish the Baltimore, the choice is made because of weather & sea conditions. My very first consideration on every single trip: Where is the best place for my clients in the event sea conditions deteriorate?
I promise -- our business is dangerous enough. 

What really irks me is the time & energy - THE MONEY - spent on a strategy that, from its outset, accepts defeat. 
"We're going to lose the Mid-Atlantic. Let's see if we can save a teeny-tiny piece.."
(insert wheelhouse invective)

We must not lose. 
The ocean really has turned green, even to beyond canyon's edge at times. Yes, the "Deep Blue Sea" is far more green today than just a few decades ago..
NOAA cannot tell you about it. It's in fishing history though, plain as day. 
Reefs where men once fished for grouper--yes, grouper--off the coast of DelMarVa in 50 fathoms have gone missing. 
I know exactly where some bottom long-lines were deployed with great success in the early 1970s. What must have been fabulous reef then is instead barren flat sandstone. A few sea bass, a few lobster, but almost no growth & certainly no grouper.. 
A sanctuary would not put that reef growth back in our lifetime. We'd need to roll our sleeves up and focus on habitat restoration; not sit behind a computer and pat ourselves on the back for 'protecting' a lost reef. 
It's as if a huge stable burnt down & we expect all our horses to return because no one's allowed near.. 

The 15, 20, & 30 fathom nearshore reefs I've written about so often are not even a twinkle in NOAA's eye. Then too, neither are the 50 fathom reefs--not even where those grouper were caught a few decades ago so near the magic 100 fathom line where "protection" seems to begin these days..

How our nearshore reef ecology, its production so well-recognized in all marine literature, came to be ignored is beyond me. I suppose the biggest reason is that it's missing. 
Like our once-blue and now green waters; it's in fishing history though, plain as day. 

I watched as a young mother tied her son's shoe. He put his finger on the first overhand lap, she finished the bow - "You did it!" 
All fine & well for encouraging a kindergartener, but protecting a tiny piece of canyon isn't going to stop our ocean's decline. 
Not even a little. 

Like Churchill: 
We must NOT GIVE UP.
To turn the ocean blue & fill it with fish will require historical habitat discovery & repair. We must find what's gone missing and put it back. 
With restored habitat, some species--especially reef species--can be managed to far higher populations than have ever existed. Then too, where squid once spawned in profusion on hardbottom reefs just a few miles off the coast; and where those same squid--caught by trawling over those same reefs, & these reefs now missing--were used as bait for all manner of pelagic fish & especially white marlin. Whether Jackspot, Delaware Lightship, Winter Quarter Shoal, South-East Ridge, Sugar Lump; or even further back in time to the days when captains with clients aboard would cheerfully & successfully target marlin at the Bass Grounds 8 miles out & even Great Gull Shoal, only 5 miles out no one would dream of targeting billfish so far inshore, not even 30 miles out.  
A young man can succesfully target sailfish off Stuart, Florida where his great-grandfather once fished. 
In the Mid-Atlantic, that same young man must today travel 40+ more miles to find water suitable for billfish; perhaps much further-still to be successful.

If all the big money, (and big money, hired gun, "grass roots" consulting firms,) remain focused on preserving scoured-bottom reef foundations--rocks scraped-bare by decades of stern-towed fishing gear impacts; our once fantastic marine production shall continue to be replaced by a greener & greener Mid-Atlantic, with less & less fisheries production. 

Because "we'll never win" prevails in marine restoration, our fishing economy withers. 
MPA advocates, to me, are proclaiming: 'Save a tiny piece! It's the best we can do!'

Everyone & everything will benefit from true marine restoration. 
Sanctuaries, on the other hand, make a few computers happy & result in bonuses for "grass roots" firms, all while factually benefiting an infinitely small part of the sea. 

Please - I Beg You All - Please Adopt A Churchillian Attitude For Marine Restoration. From streams & rivers, the critical biofiltration of our missing oyster reefs & sea grass bed production, to missing marine reefs known only to a precious few -- our Large Marine Ecosystem demands repair in every aspect. 

We must NOT GIVE UP.

My Regards,

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